Center for Personal Growth Helps Turn Troubled Teens into Responsible Young Men
Don Herndon of Classic Wood Flooring walks the AMIkids grounds with its executive director, Cedric Cliatt. They pause to admire a large mosaic of a boat navigating towards the horizon that was designed and created by AMIkids.
“I love this mural,” says Cliatt. “It’s a lasting symbol of how street-hardened teens can come together to create something wonderful.”
Cliatt is referring to the students at the AMIkids Melbourne Center for Personal Growth. On average, kids come in between 13 to 18 years of age after being assigned to the program by the Department of Juvenile Justice. They either dropped out or were kicked out of school and wound up in trouble.
Fortunately, AMIkids truly does separate a troubled past from a bright future. The Melbourne Center ranks in the top five of the AMIkids centers across the country with impressive stats:
- 71% return to school, earn their GED or enter the workforce
- 74% do not reoffend
- Over 50,000 hours of community service are provided each year by AMIkids
- 98% of students complete the program
The program directs kids to a clearly defined life path using behavior modification, education, treatment, mentoring and counseling. The entire staff is trained to be role models, to listen more than preach, to hear what each kid has to say and help them deal with family issues, academic failure, addiction, self-esteem and anger management.
“Without this program, I may not be alive today,” said Jerome, former student at AMIkids. “Instead, AMI helped me to become a leader, be respectful, responsible and honest. I look forward to attending college and making my family proud.”
AMIkids is a goal-oriented, level 6 program with a lot of moving parts, including its Personal Growth Model© and a Circles of Care partnership that provides treatment for everything from aggression replacement to substance abuse to family counseling. Students can also earn certifications for ServSafe food handler, EKG, personal training, first aid and CPR, and occupational safety to help prepare them to enter the workforce.
An alternative school within Brevard Public Schools, AMI’s main focus is on education with three teachers and the Director of Education/Principal Dr. Derek Tolley. Teens typically complete the program in six to nine months. In that time, the students advance almost two grade levels to help them get their education back on track.
“AMI helps put structure into lives where there was none,” says Cliatt. “Kids come into the program at the rank of recruit and start earning points through hard work and achieving goals to advance to seaman, second mate, first mate, chief, and finally ensign.”
Raised in Merritt Island, Cedric Cliatt started with AMIkids in 2005, working his way from night watchman to shift supervisor. He worked as director of operations at both the Jacksonville and Gainesville centers before returning to the Melbourne Center as its executive director in 2014, during Don Herndon’s two years as chairman of the board for AMIkids Space Coast.
“Cedric and his staff plant a seed and nurture it,” states Herndon. “Kids come here mad at the world with no hope or self-esteem. They leave with confidence and a new outlook on life after having to earn every bit of progress at AMI.”
“The change I’ve seen in these young men in such a short time is nothing short of miraculous. I urge everyone in Brevard to tour this facility. It will make true believers and supporters out of them – guaranteed.” b
To learn more about Classic Wood Flooring, contact Don Herndon. The showroom is located at 3115 Aspinwall Ave., in Melbourne, Florida 32955. For more information call (321) 253-8847 or visit them online at ClassicWoodfFlooring.com